Legal Ads in Union County

S2855, the “Electronic Publication of Legal Notices Act”, was introduced in the NJ Senate yesterday. The law would “permit publication of legal notices by government agencies and persons on official government notice websites instead of newspapers.”

Perfectly sensible legislation in an age of electronic media that the primary beneficiary of the status quo ( and the Star Ledger) covered as if there were two sides to this issue:

Advocates for the proposal argue it will save taxpayers money by conforming to the times.

“It’s basically money for the print media that is really a waste of money for the taxpayers,” Assemblyman Jon Bramnick (R-Union) said.

“Post it online. No one’s finding it in like 2-point print in the back of the newspaper other than maybe the cat and the dog,” he said.

But newspaper advocates, meanwhile, say the bill would make residents comb through individual towns’ websites for notices rather than open the newspaper or search online at, said George White, executive director of the New Jersey Press Association, which publishes all the state’s legal notices on the website.

Astounding that an advocate for the continued control of media outlets that cover government (in theory more than practice in the case of the Star Ledger and Union County) would point to the availability of a website that makes their bribery unnecessary.

All legal ads accomplish is the subsidization of favorably-biased coverage of government activities with the ever-present threat of castration of possible critics through the pulling of those legal ads.  And it all comes with a hefty price tag. For example, based on check registry data from 2004 through mid-2016 Union County taxpayers paid at least $2.5 million broken down (with links to spreadsheets) as follows:

All sources:


Star Ledger and NJ Advance Media:


Spanish newspapers:




11 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Peter Scull on December 13, 2016 at 8:17 pm

    Do away with the Legal ads and The Star Ledger will become a 12 page daily newspaper. I find them annoying and would love to see them done away with even if it means changing to another newspaper.


  2. Posted by steve on December 14, 2016 at 6:57 am

    BAD IDEA—What about a large block of voters (mainly seniors ) that are not “plugged in ” YOU egg heads who do not want to spent a few cents on a paper find it hard to accept that not every one basks in the glow of a computer screen–and since when is a career politician interested in saving money?—-lets start thinking this shumerest legislation all the way out


  3. Posted by Bruce Rosen on December 14, 2016 at 9:52 am

    This is clearly a quid pro quo for salary increases by legislature so Christie can get his revenge on Star Ledger, which will lose about 7% of revenue. This will cost jobs, reduce the efficiency of an already crippled media watchdog, not save taxpayers much at all and will make it ridiculously hard to find legal ads. Moreover, we will be the only state in the nation to do this. And Peter Scull, this will affect all newspapers and will just hasten their demise in NJ


    • Of course salary increases for legislative staff is the goodie that gets this passed and if Union County does not have to spend $1.4 million to subsidize the Star Ledger they could waste that money on a myriad of stupid projects but can coverage of local government by those who get this bribe money get any worse?

      Devine Media and the Cranford Chronicle used to get ad money and they are now gone (not so sure about Devine but CC is definitely gone) and has the public looking for information on county government suffered from their loss?

      There are also costs associated with placing these ads that are basically duplicative since most of this public information needs to be on the government website anyway.


  4. Posted by Bruce Rosen on December 14, 2016 at 10:17 am

    the sheriff’s ads are privately paid so they need to be backed out of your equation. not sure if the public will know where to look.


    • Agree, the public does not know where to look and a reason for that is the trust they misplace in media outlets that spoon-feed them, in most cases, only the pablum that governments don’t mind sharing.

      Roselle is about to waste $59 million on a vanity project that will bankrupt the town (more on this tomorrow morning here) yet the people of Roselle know to look at the Union County Improvement Authority or Local Finance Board website to track this fiasco mistakenly believing that if it were important some media outlet would cover it.


  5. Posted by Bruce Rosen on December 14, 2016 at 10:52 am

    Since the Ledger has been emasculated by cuts, they look to YOU John. Go get ’em


    • I’m on it both in Union County and pensions.

      There was a time when the Ledger gave a damn. Ryan Hitchens was the Union County beat reporter for about a month and Dunstan McNichol did a fantastic job on pensions before they cut him in a 2009 cost-cutting move (he went to Bloomberg to do good work but sadly died too young). Now not only do we get only repackaged press releases from them but they have cut back the letters section, eliminated a forum, and censor their commenters.

      On balance, if the Star Ledger stopped printing tomorrow the general public would benefit. The biggest losers would be politicians who like to see their names in the paper while print reporters would have to join us here on the internet competing on merit.


  6. Posted by bpateson on December 14, 2016 at 5:04 pm

    The star ledger is just too stupid to recognize that it did this to itself…..I wouldn’t miss the star ledger, when I read it, I feel dirty from their slimy opinions on all the pages, even the front page, not just the op/ed page. I feel like they are spitting while trying to blurt out so much vitriol. From the SL sadly comes no real government investigative reporting anymore unless they don’t like the person, were told by the political boss’ like senator lesniak to diss his adversaries, or the person was simply just a republican. Good example of the SL’s uselessness is that the union county watchdogs have uncovered rampant waste, abuse, self-serving, pay to play and even grass roots corruption at the union county govt and the star ledger never came close in using the possible info to dig further. In fact, ( I forgot the reporters name) but the ledger person who was suppose to cover the union county govt for years did not show up at the meetings, but instead just embellished press releases given to the paper from union county govt, and then when he got laid off, he landed in a cushy job as some press liason inside the union county prosecutors office. Nice reward. (I’m sure the watchdogs did an article on the guy selling out sometime past). I laugh at the ledgers claims in the last 10-12 years to be a watchdog newspaper but owned by politicans such as senator lesniak and the example of the $1.3 million in govt ads union county govt pays them, and wonder when people use them as reference, how gullible or what mental flaws they may have……..but getting back on topic, we need an honest newspaper that covers this area, and so wouldn’t mind the govt ads being sent to them, or an alternative, a central site could easily be created for legal ads. As an example the federal government has construction, materials and upgrade projects for all their entities and armed service branches on a central site “”.


  7. Posted by readslikeamofiabook on December 14, 2016 at 10:13 pm

    Who actually buys a newspaper these days? Poor Tom Moron …done and stick a fork in it/him. … the Public doesn’t need NJ.COM or the S/L anymore… free on-line sites that contain more adequate information. Moron scared, as he should be. His pension probably in jeopardy too. LOL


  8. […] passes tomorrow, which is the main reason the Star ledger is desperate to keep that legal ad money ($200,000 annually from Union County alone) flowing – to the point where their feeble arguments turn […]


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